Bureaucracy, Collegiality and Social Change
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Bureaucracy, Collegiality and Social Change

Redefining Organizations with Multilevel Relational Infrastructures

Emmanuel Lazega

This insightful book theorizes the contrast between two logics of organization: bureaucracy and collegiality. Based on this theory and employing a new methodology to transform our sociological understanding, Emmanuel Lazega sheds light on complex organizational phenomena that impact markets, political economy, social networks and social stratification.
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Chapter 5: Revisiting the role of organizations in generating social inequalities and stratification

Emmanuel Lazega


Actors in multilevel positions activate the combination of collegiality and bureaucracy to use organizations as ratchets of stratigraphic social stratification. Beyond just locking existing social inequalities in the organizational society, three mechanisms are explored through which activating multilevel relational infrastructures in organizations generates more inequalities. First, organizations help elites self-segregate and hoard opportunities using top-down collegiality: the more open at the bottom, the more closed at the top – closure being based on using the private dimension of relational infrastructures in bunkerized collegial oligarchies. Second, coordination between strata can throw weaker groups carrying out routine tasks into the pitfalls of “participation”. Third, by using violence to reshape multispins of organized mobility and relational turnover, stratigraphic organizations can lower the capacity of weaker groups to build, over time, strong multilevel relational infrastructures for joint regulation, dumping on such groups high synchronization costs in coordination of temporalities across levels.

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